Friday, December 8, 2023

Pursuing a suntan

 What with COVID and my accident last year, it took me almost 4 years to get back to WA. I came over for a week in March after my AAWT walk, which gave me the opportunity to check the lie of the land and sort out getting my car back on the road in time for my return in October. I caught up with friends and even managed an hour out on the water windsurfing, but it was short and sweet. This time I was back for 2 months...

Getting the Troopy back on the road cost a pretty penny, but I needed wheels to go windsurfing up at Coronation Beach which is 30km out of town (only 15km for me though). Leaving your car exposed to ocean air for 3 and a half years causes a lot of metal things to go a bit rusty, like fuel lines, car bodies and door hinges (though the latter probably carked it a long time ago), so besides getting it road worthy I've also spent many hours grinding back the rust, bogging holes and repainting the body. I've also found somewhere a bit further away from the ocean to store it for the next 10 months. Hopefully the old beast will last a few more years.

After a week of temperatures in the high 30s and one day in the 40s, the weather segued into perfect windsurfing weather, with regular afternoon sea breezes multiple days in a row. There wasn't much swell, and the wind was pretty strong, but I was just getting my legs back. so I didn't mind. It took me three goes before I nailed my first jibe, and soon I was hanging it with the rest of them. 

The wind continued to deliver, but without a lot of swell. I was starting to get antsy as I wanted to be back riding waves again, and at last we got a few good days with some decent waves to have fun with. My fitness and strength are probably the best they've been for a while, a result of all those sessions in the gym this winter. Not that there's anything that can prepare you for blistering 30-35 knot winds when you feel like your arms become just a little bit longer!!!

The front garden needed a lot of work, in particular cutting back the trees and hedges to allow my car to actually get in and out of the driveway. My tenant hadn't done more than a rudimentary amount of pruning, enough for her much smaller vehicle, but not enough for my behemoth. So I called in the contractors, and half a day of chainsawing later I had a usable driveway and my view back.

The tank beds were disintegrating from rust, and had long since been productive for vegetables, so a bit of rationalisation has taken place. Three of the tanks were cut down and used to patch up other beds I plan to keep, and I've put in a rudimentary reticulation system to make maintenance a little easier. It also opens up the front yard a bit so I also did a bit more paving to connect areas better and extend the parking area.

The cellar needed cleaning out. My attempt to waterproof it with three coats of waterproofing paint wasn't completely successful, but the mould growing wasn't overwhelming so I didn't need to chuck too much out. The floorboards were really manky though, so they got binned and I've just popped a rubber mat down instead. I've also found some real estate within my tiny flat to store some stuff, so not everything needs to go back down in the cellar.

Aside from cleaning out the cellar, I also cleared out the storage area under the carport. There's nothing quite like spending a few years away to realise there's a lot of shit you don't need to hold onto!

I've been watching the agave plants put out huge flower spikes, the largest one being somewhere between 8-10 metres. I'm hoping the flowers open before I leave as the honey eaters love them. They didn't...

Talking about birds, the Ospreys have been hanging out on a disused electricity pole down by the beach. Their chick is very noisy, calling out to its parents for food. Those honey eaters better watch out! (Nah, I think Osprey prefer fish)

In between doing a huge heap of chores I've been really enjoying being home in my little tiny flat. Looking out at the ocean, plotting the garden and obtaining a very healthy suntan. Gotta get my Vitamin D levels up before heading to the northern hemisphere for another winter. Gosh I'm enjoying never needing to put on anything with long sleeves!

It's been great to catch up with friends, mostly the windsurfing crowd, but also my bookclub mates. I've volunteered to host next November so I'm committed to being back by then. Not that I've had time to read a book yet!

The biggest headache was waiting for my paperwork from Japan to arrive. I sent off my paperwork in August. My boss applied for a certificate of eligibility (to get a work visa) from the immigration department in September and it at last came through on the 21st November and was sent immediately. However, it took 10 days to reach me, so in the meantime I rang the consulate in Perth to ask if I could send a copy. My boss had messaged me a photo of the certificate before sending it by snail mail.

It turns out that the Japanese Government has acknowledged that this is causing a lot of delays, and have started issuing the COE electronically. But my boss wasn't aware of this until after I spoke with the Consulate in Perth, so he plans to do the required paperwork so that we can get them electronically next season. Luckily, the Consulate agreed to let me send a photo print out of the certificate with my application, and show them the original when I go to pick up my passport in person. It takes 5 business days to process the visa, and I still needed to get my passport and visa application to Perth via the postal service at least a week before I flew out!! It's an entirely unnecessary piece of bureaucratic drama that I thought I could avoid by being well organised. Crazily, some of my colleagues who applied later than me had theirs come through weeks before me!!

After that initial week or so of wind, we entered a 2 week hiatus, where the weather didn't get too hot for outside gardening activities, but the wind didn't get strong enough for windsurfing. I understand why many of my friends have taken up wing foiling, but I had enough chores with the garden and the rust removal project to prevent any boredom.

My two months back home was great. I was worried it wouldn't be enough, and when the wind finally returned, along with some very nice waves as well, I contemplated changing my flights to get a couple more days out on the water.  But the two days I got at the end were just brilliant, and I'm definitely ready to head on to my next adventure.

Japan here I come!!

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